[The Week in Education and Technology is a weekly summary of news, events, and ideas related to education, technology, and culture.]
But let’s begin by acknowledging that many schools are facing, or will soon face, the necessity of some kind of significant change. The path to success will require collective action – and I believe that the most creative and effective action will start with honest, clear-eyed conversation about our challenges. The most important work is ahead of us.
Susan Campbell Baldridge, The College Stress Test: Tracking Institutional Futures across a Crowded Market
Information comes at us constantly and from all directions. Our minds latch onto certain patterns that are generally shaped or reinforced by our communities. It’s a good coping mechanism but also one that can lead to false assumptions. One example is the assumptions that most of us have about how and where innovation occurs in our schools.
And, in case you were thinking that dual-credit and concurrent-enrollment courses were simply a fad, take not that reality is likely headed in the opposite direction. Not only will we see more students taking a few college courses in high school to get a leg up, we’ll actually see more and more schools and students opting for early college high school programs. This recent report from the Association of Research Institutes shows the benefits.
And, not only are more schools looking to enhance their college-credit programs, but some are also realizing that curriculum shifts can help them teach skills and competencies that will help students flourish professionally.
As the authors of The College Stress Test: Tracking Institutional Futures across a Crowded Market point out, higher ed institutions need to adjust in order to navigate the turbulent waters of change they have entered. Bryan Alexander has a couple of recent posts pointing to struggles at specific institutions but, as he states clearly in one headline, the indicators for some higher ed institutions are grim. The University of Alaska system, facing particularly dire funding cuts, is looking at significant program reductions and consolidations.
What’s a university to do? Well, many are looking increasingly to online learning as a way to serve their local and regional customers. In addition, there is a growing awareness among universities that their traditional market, students 18-25, is shrinking rapidly and being replaced by adult learners. That reality has many institutions thinking about new ways to attract and serve the adult-learner market.
Of course, this is just one example of changing assumptions about students and their needs. At community colleges, for example, 17% of students reported experiencing homelessness within the past year.
There is a growing belief that colleges and universities need to focus more directly on teaching the essential skills (often referred to as “soft skills”) that students need to succeed professionally. Within the academy, however, whose responsibility is it to ensure that these skills are emphasized, taught, and assessed in a meaningful way? According to Celeste R. Smith, director of education at the American Association of Law Libraries, every organization needs to take responsibility for providing continuous learning and skilling/reskilling/upskilling.
Speaking of reskilling and upskilling, the notion that EVERYONE must remain on a path of continuous learning to be successful raises interesting questions for colleges and universities. What does the higher ed model look like, for example, is institutions think about 60-year curriculum design as opposed to a six-year approach?
I also want to give a shout-out this week to the people at Nucleos, a startup trying to make online educational and vocational programs more accessible to those behind bars. “Nucleos gives people a chance to do what I’ve done in prison, and I want to help put other people in that direction,” says entrepreneur, investor and former prisoner Dave Dahl. He credits a computer-aided drafting class that he took in prison for “giving me a skill … and opening my mind that I was a capable person beyond being a thug, a drug addict and a drug dealer.”
On a final note this week, it seems that combustion engine cars will indeed meet their demise in the next two decades. The latest nation to set a target date for banning sales of such vehicles/ The UK, saying that they hope to end the sale of combustion engine cars as early as 2032.
Speaking of cars, the shift to electric vehicles is changing the fundamental identity of our vehicles. In the new era, they are becoming computers and data centers on wheels. Not surprisingly, there is a certain first-mover advantage in developing markets, particularly where new technology is concerned. Tesla seems to be benefitting from this first-mover status as, according to competitors, they are not currently able to match the company’s engineering advancements.
Episode 15: The Impossible Is Bound to Happen — Education and Technology Futures Videocast)
The Junk Village (A Parable) — Parables on Learning
Episode 16: The End of an Era — (Education and Technology Futures Videocast)